For a coach that quipped he could sell Avon, it’s no surprise that Brian Kelly could sell 12-1. Even with that one loss being a resounding thud in the national title game, Notre Dame’s head coach was all smiles when discussing his 2013 recruiting class, even if there were storylines swirling throughout his noon press conference.
First lets dispose of the obvious. With two recruits still on the board when Kelly took to the podium, the head coach nimbly worked around a clerical mistake that listed five-star prospect Eddie Vanderdoes among those signing with the Irish. An honest mistake caused a tidal wave across social media, and one that the coach and his assistants likely took to the phones to fix with the massive defensive tackle. While Vanderdoes will announce his intent at 8 p.m. EST, that wasn’t the only burner left lit, as running back Tarean Folston surprisingly held his decision off until the afternoon, forcing the Irish only to anounce five-star running back Greg Bryant’s signing, a prospect touted enough to fulfill any need most years.
But this wasn’t most years. This 2013 recruiting class is the best Notre Dame has signed in the modern era, doing a perfect job of filling needs and finding elite players that will now be a part of a football team not rebuilding or maintaining, but suddenly thrust into the national conversation.
“It’s a recruiting class that, when you’re looking at it from my perspective, it meets the time and place as to where we are right now,” Kelly said. “We’re a team that has gone from unranked to top ten ranking, top five ranking, at times we’re the No. 1 team in the country. And I think your class reflects that as you move forward.”
If you missed the first twenty-three posts of the last 24 hours, you might do yourself well by looking back at the class broken down individually. But viewing the group through a wide lens, one key factor sticks out.
First, Kelly and his staff targeted winners. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco made some headlines a few months ago when he talked about his general disdain for players that play for losing programs, but that showed true in the final product of this class. The majority of this group played on excellent football teams, with several state championships and postseason appearances aggregated.
“We really were looking for winners,” Kelly said today. “I think the winning percentage of this group, we did some number crunched some numbers, is like 74 percent winning percentage. These kids come from winning programs. They’ve won state championships. They represent winners as it relates to the kind of players we wanted.”
There are two more victories yet to be earned today, with Folston and Vanderdoes still up for grabs. But regardless of what happens in the next few hours, Kelly has built a class that mirrors the success of the 2012 season.
Not too shabby.